TAMPA BAY – The Buccaneers didn’t make a ton of moves during free agency, but the ones they did make really stood out.

The trade for guard Shaq Mason and the signing of wide receiver Russell Gage are easily the two most notable moves. Both players are ideal fits for what the Buccaneers like to do on offense and both are proven players in the league.

In fact, the Buccaneers’ own Pro Bowl safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., thinks that Gage isn’t just going to fit in. He sees much, much more than that.

“I think he is the perfect slot for our system, being at that receiver position,” Winfield Jr. told reporters earlier in the week. “Playing against him, he’s tough in there, so I think we’re going to utilize him just fine in that area. He’s smart, he has good routes, he is shifty – I like his game a lot.”

The slot position is what Chris Godwin plays in the Buccaneers offense, so it will be very interesting to see how the snaps are divided up once Godwin is fully healthy and returns to the lineup. But until then, Gage will man the slot position for the majority of the time.

Gage is a very versatile player and has plenty of experience and production playing inside. Per Pro Football Focus, nearly 44% of Gage’s 609 offensive snaps came out of the slot in 2021. Gage’s 266 total slot snaps are actually the lowest amount in a single season since his rookie year, but that’s because he was forced to play outside more after the Julio Jones trade and Calvin Ridley’s decision to sit out the vast majority of the 2021 season.

Gage played a career-high 495 snaps out of the slot in 2020, per PFF. Per Sports Info Solutions he finished top-15 in routes ran and targets among all receivers in the slot and was top-20 in receptions and receiving yards. He tied for 21st with four touchdowns. Meaning, Gage can produce when called upon.

He’s even lined up a few times at quarterback, in the backfield, and at the in-line tight end position over the years. He has a 50-yard touchdown pass to his name and six career carries for 21 yards, as a result.

Gage’s versatility and his effectiveness are the catalysts behind why Winfield Jr. said what he said and it’s the same situation when it comes to why Tom Brady called Gage and recruited him to Tampa Bay.

And those are also the exact reasons why Gage is going to shine with the Buccaneers.

Featured image via Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports